For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
October 16, 2002 - Wanted: Non-Library Users
This is like the old joke: would all those people not here, please raise their hands?
The library is looking to do a special kind of focus group. In our jargon, it is a "non-user" study. In brief, we want to pull together at least two groups of ten people (one group of adults, one of teens) that do not use the library. That is, they don't have cards, they don't use our website, they don't stop by for meetings.
Then we want to ask these people, in their separate groups, to talk about how come.
There are several reasons for our curiosity.
First, like any other business, we want to improve our marketing. Library staff have a deeply held belief that we have something for everybody. But we are also aware that people are busy, too busy, sometimes, to find out about all the wonderful things going on in their own back yards. How can we get the word out better than we do now?
Second, also like other businesses, we need to know if there's some barrier to our services that we should be doing something about. For instance, is there a tremendous, pent-up demand for library service on Friday or Saturday nights? Do we need early morning commuter hours?
Third, we are deeply interested in trends. Public institutions, if they are to be worthy of the dollars invested of them, have to stay focused on their communities.
For example, we know that the rise of the Internet has had an effect on library use and services. But it's not the effect that some people predicted. We have found, and studies have shown both here and elsewhere, that when we added Internet terminals, all kinds of library use went UP.
That is, people came in to use the terminals, but found that this increased their interest in the world of print and video. They discovered the comfort and hominess of the environment. They met friends there.
But it's also the case that use of the Internet replaced some kinds of library use -- the quick answer kind.
But back to my request. If you, or someone you know, lives in a household where there are no active library cards, please call, or have them call either me, or my assistant, Patti Owen-DeLay, at 720-733-8624.
We're trying to set up the two focus groups on November 6. They will be held at the Highlands Ranch Library, although we're seeking representation from around the county.
The focus group for teens will run from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The adult focus group will run from 6:30 to 8:30. Participants will be paid, and will also get some snacks.
This is limited to residents of Douglas County, by the way.
So help us get out the word. When was the last time an organization offered you money to tell them why you weren't paying any attention to them?